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ESTABLISHMENT OF A SINGLE PERSON COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY INTO REFUSALS OF IRISH CITIZENSHIP WHERE NATIONAL SECURITY CONCERNS ARISE HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED

On 30th September 2020, the Minister for Justice and Equality announced the establishment of the awaited Single Person Committee of Inquiry into refusals of naturalisation applications where the refusal is in whole or in part based on national security concerns.

A new enhanced procedure was set up in compliance with the findings of the Supreme Court decision of A. P -v- Minister for Justice and Equality [2019] IESC 47, delivered on the 31st May 2019.

Our blog relating to this judgement can be found here.

Mr. Justice John Hedigan has been appointed as member of this single person committee. Mr. Justice John Hedigan was a Judge of The Court of Appeal in Ireland until his retirement. Prior to that, he was a Judge of The High Court from 2007 until 2016 and from 1998 until 2007 he was a Judge of The European Court of Human Rights.

This is a new procedure and it is yet to be seen how it will operate in practice. It appears that the system will operate on the basis that an applicant who has been refused naturalisation on basis of nationality security concerns can apply to the SPC. The SPC will then undertake an assessment and make a report to the Minister. The report will recommend to the Minister that the information used to form the basis of the refusal decision be provided in whole to the applicant, in part (“the gist” of the information) or that the information not be released to the applicant. The Minister will make her decision based on the report from the SPC.

Minister McEntee has stated in respect of Judge Hedigan’s appointment and to the establishment of this Committee:

“I am pleased that retired Judge John Hedigan has agreed to serve as the Member of the Single Person Committee. The establishment of the Committee will provide greater openness and transparency in the process for applicants who are refused a certificate of naturalisation in the small number of cases where National Security concerns arise.

“It also ensures that the confidentiality of matters of National Security continue to be appropriately maintained for the security of the State.”

The full announcement can be found here.

STATELESS CHILD BORN IN IRELAND GRANTED A CERTIFICATE OF NATIONALITY

We at Berkeley Solicitors would like to extend our warmest congratulations to our client and their minor child who was recently granted a certificate of nationality pursuant to Section 28 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956.

The case involved a minor child whose parents hold “Aliens” passports, and do not have citizenship of any country.

Our client is therefore a stateless minor child who was born in Ireland but was not entitled to Irish citizenship by birth pursuant to Section 6A of the Irish National and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended because neither of their parents has acquired three years reckonable residence prior to the birth of their child.

Section 6 (3) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 as amended, which states as follows.

“A person born in the island of Ireland is an Irish citizen from birth if he or she is not entitled to citizenship of any other country.”

In order for our client to have her right to Irish citizenship recognised under this provision, we applied to the Minister for a Certificate of Nationality pursuant to Section 28 of the 1956 Act which states as follows:

“(1) Any person who claims to be an Irish citizen, other than a naturalised Irish citizen, may apply to the Minister or, if resident outside Ireland, to any Irish diplomatic officer or consular officer for a certificate of nationality stating that the applicant is, at the date of the certificate, an Irish citizen; and the Minister or officer, if satisfied that-

(a) the applicant is an Irish citizen, and

(b) the issue of the certificate is necessary in all the circumstances of the case,
may issue a certificate of nationality to him accordingly.”

The granting of this application now means that our client is recognised as an Irish citizen by birth on the basis that she is not entitled to citizenship in any other country. Our clients can now apply for an Irish passport for their minor child, which is a wonderful conclusion to their case.

This is a significant decision for other stateless persons who may have a baby born in Ireland who is not entitled to any citizenship from another country. We at Berkeley Solicitors would be happy to advise any clients in similar situations and would encourage you or any family members in such positions to contact our office.